National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group minutes: November 2018

Minutes from the meeting of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG), held on 14 November 2018.

Attendees and apologies


  • Ms Rose Fitzpatrick (Chair)
  • Ms Nicky Reid
  • Mr Billy Watson
  • Mr George Dodds
  • Ms Jane O’Donnell
  • Ms Angela Scott
  • Mr James Jopling
  • Ms Ruth Moss
  • Mr Nigel Henderson
  • Ms Lara McDonald
  • Mr Toni Giugliano
  • Dr David Hall
  • Dr Michael Smith
  • Dr John Mitchell
  • Dr Amy Knighton
  • Chief Superintendent John McKenzie


  • Ms Shirley Windsor, Organisational Lead – Public Mental Health, NHS Health Scotland

Note Takers

  • Mr Allan Steele
  • Ms Katie Godfrey


  • Ms Siobhan Mackay
  • Ms Katie Godfrey
  • Ms Lyndsay Wilson
  • Mr Allan Steele

Items and actions

1. Welcome


The Chair of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG) (the Group) welcomed members to their third meeting.

There were no apologies to the meeting.  The Chair advised the meeting that Ms Nicky Reid, Chief Executive of the Scottish Professional Football League Trust, had recently accepted an invitation to join the Group. She would be attending from 2pm due to prior existing engagements.

Minutes from Meeting 2: 23 October 2018

The minutes of the October 2018 meeting of the NSPLG were approved.

It was agreed that a summary of the key points from the Group workshops would be circulated to Group members.

Actions from Meeting 2: 23 October 2018

  • NSPLG Terms of reference/minutes: The Secretariat to amend the minutes from the first meeting and publish these on the Scottish Government website.

The Secretariat gave an update that the NSPLG Terms of Reference and minutes from the first meeting were now published on the Scottish Government website along with the membership of the Group.

  • Academic advice to the NSPLG: The Chair to discuss with the Minister for Mental Health the connection between the Group and academic research on suicide prevention.

After discussion with the Minister for Mental Health, the Chair had approached Professor Steve Platt, Emeritus Professor of Health Policy Research at the University of Edinburgh and Professor Rory O’Connor of the University of Glasgow Suicidal Behaviour Research Lab, who had kindly agreed to set up and co-chair an Academic Advisory Group (AAG) which would provide academic (including evaluation) advice to the NSPLG.

Dr Michael Smith had agreed to act as a link between the Group and the AAG. Dr Smith would work with the AAG to draft terms of reference concerning its purpose, remit and responsibilities. These would be tabled at the January NSPLG meeting (Meeting Minutes Action 1).

Note: A member of the AAG will be present at future NSPLG meetings in an advisory capacity.

  • Scotland Suicide Prevention Action Plan (SSPAP) Delivery Plan: The Secretariat to map Scottish Government policy activity to link to any existing work that the Group needs to consider when populating the Delivery Plan. The Secretariat to take Group feedback and produce next draft of the Delivery Plan. 

The Secretariat reported that it had included relevant Scottish Government policy dates and feedback from each of the NSPLG Sponsors within the draft Delivery Plan (as tabled at the meeting).

Note: It was agreed that a broader mapping process beyond government policy needed to be undertaken – this would need to include strategy, services, stakeholders etc. (Meeting Minutes Action 11).

  • Venue/future meetings The Group will inform the Secretariat of any available rooms they may have to utilise as a meeting space.

Members of the Group had been helpful in providing potential venues for future meetings. Venues for December and January had now been agreed:

December: 10 December 2018

                 : 12pm to 4pm

                 : Police Scotland Fettes, Edinburgh

January    : 23 January 2019

                 : 12pm to 4pm

                 : Commonwealth House Glasgow

Note: The Group would revisit the frequency of the NSPLG meetings during its  January meeting. At this stage the Group agreed that the 20 February 2019 and 20 March 2019 should be held as diary placeholders.

SSPAP Action Sponsors

The Chair updated the Group on her discussions with members, during which she had invited individual members to Sponsor/Co-Sponsor individual Actions in the SSPAP. Sponsors had now been agreed for each SSPAP Action.

A sponsor specification document (circulated prior to the meeting) was discussed. Sponsors agreed that they would feed back with their thoughts on this document via email to the Secretariat. It would be finalised and circulated by email ahead of the next meeting (Meeting Minutes Action 2).

NSPLG Lived Experience Engagement

The Secretariat updated the Group on a proposal for engaging Lived Experience advice and insights throughout the duration of the SSPAP and the work of the NSPLG. This proposal was tabled at the meeting and it was agreed that there was a requirement to consider this in more detail and come back to the Group with an enhanced proposal. Ms Lara McDonald, Ms Ruth Moss, Mr James Jopling, Mr Billy Watson and Mr Nigel Henderson offered to progress this together. (Meeting Minutes Action 12).

In the meantime, it was agreed the ALLIANCE would run a lived experience panel to enable members of the Group to engage on the draft SSPAP Delivery Plan before it reached its final draft. This will be held on 3 December, to allow any feedback to be incorporated into the document before it was put to the NSPLG for approval.

Communication and Engagement

The Group continued to require the development of a coherent Communication and Engagement Strategy.

Several of the members indicated that their organisations might have the capability and capacity to be able to collaborate with the Secretariat to deliver this. The Secretariat will invite members to outline any resource they might be able to offer to develop this product, aligned to the SSPAP Delivery Plan and as part of the collaborative Secretariat. (Meeting Minutes Action 10).

In the interim, the Secretariat agreed to circulate If Asked lines to members as necessary. In particular members reflected on recent media activity around the tragic suicides in Polmont. The Group also had a brief discussion about where activity of the group may be of relevance to prison settings (Meeting Minutes Action 9 and Action 10).

2. Scotland Suicide Prevention Action Plan: Action 2 – Refreshed Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Training - Update from NHS Health Scotland

Ms Shirley Windsor (Organisational Lead – Public Mental Health, NHS Health Scotland) presented an overview of work being co-ordinated by NHS Health Scotland and NHS Education for Scotland (NES) in relation to SSPAP Action 2.

Group discussion

Subsequent discussion and questions from the Group revolved around three key themes:

  • the need to expand this training out to the general population
  • the link between the training and public awareness i.e. viewing public and private sector awareness as part of the universal aspect of training
  • the current length of training courses

Further points discussed included:

  • whether a specific resource is developed for children and young people themselves as well as for those supporting them
  • initial training and ongoing Continuous Personal Development (CPD)
  • messaging beyond the health setting and the link to public awareness

3. Ms Ruth Moss lived experience presentation

Ms Moss shared a powerful personal account of her experiences with suicide. This included an overview of where the actions in the National Suicide Prevention Action Plan may have made a difference. This also reinforced the importance of lived experience in both developing and delivering the work of the Group.

Members of the Group expressed their sorrow for Ms Moss’ loss and for the pain of her own experiences, and thanked her for the value and perspective these gave to the critically-important work of realising the vision set out in Scotland’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan (SSPAP). 

4. Delivery Plan   

SSPAP Innovation Fund

The Secretariat gave an overview of the draft proposal for the Innovation Fund (as tabled prior to the meeting) and requested any feedback upon this be emailed through for collation. It was agreed that a revised proposal will be presented for agreement at the December meeting (Meeting Minutes Action 3).

Delivery Plan

The Secretariat gave an overview of the draft format for the Delivery Plan which was based on the information provided by members so far.

The Chair emphasised that this is a Delivery Plan, and as such should focus as far as possible at this early stage on specific deliverables as well as enablers.  NSPLG members who were sponsoring particular SSPAP Actions were then invited to present their SSPAP Action timeline, followed by a brief discussion within the Group.  

A lengthy discussion then took place, during which specific points raised with relation to each SSPAP Action included:

SSPAP Action 1 (Local Plans): In considering possible activity, members discussed opportunities and timeframes for informing the development of Local Outcome and Improvement Plans (LOIPs). Specific links to SSPAP Action 9 and SSPAP Action 10 were noted as a possible learning and delivery cycle. Members also noted possible links with developments around the transformation of public health in Scotland, specifically the review of public health.  

SSPAP Action 2 (Training): Members discussed what levers there might be to encourage organisations such as non-NHS public sector employers, businesses and professional bodies to invest in mental health training.  For example, this is a registration requirement of the SPFL Trust. Members also noted links with SSPAP Action 8 and the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Taskforce.          

SSPAP Action 3 (Public Awareness): Members discussed the possible needs of different sectors e.g. whole population and at-risk groups. 

SSPAP Action 4 (Crisis Care for People Affected) and SSPAP Action 5 (Crisis Support for People in Crisis): Members had a broad discussion about the similarities, differences and overlaps between these two Actions, and agreed that their Sponsors would consider these issues in more detail and propose a way forward to the Group. 

SSPAP Action 6 (Digital Technology): Members discussed the importance of this Action being informed by SSPAP Actions 7, 4 and 5. Members also discussed the opportunity for wider engagement, including with the private sector, to help identify and progress options and noted links to activity around safe use of the internet.

SSPAP Action 7 (At-Risk Groups): Members discussed opportunities to work with relevant partners to progress activity, such as the Independent Care Review, led by Ms Fiona Duncan. 

SSPAP Action 8 (Children and Young People): Members agreed the importance of SSPAP Action 8 being visible in all other Actions. There was a broad discussion about the range of partners that need to be involved, and particularly cross-cutting links with the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Taskforce, led by Dame Denise Coia. 

SSPAP Action 9 (Evidence-Based Improvement): There was a broad discussion about how the Group would access evidence beyond academic data and analysis. It was agreed that the options being developed to work with and understand the evidence of people with Lived Experience, together with the support of the Academic Advisory Group, would be important resources for this Action. 

SSPAP Action 10 (Reviews): While members noted that the SSPAP refers specifically to review of all deaths by suicide, they reflected on whether there may be a need to consider activity around attempted suicides as part of the learning process. It was agreed that this option would be born in mind by the relevant Sponsors in development of the delivery approach. 

In addition to these specific discussions, there were broad themes of the Group’s discussion that included a need for:

  • early action – the Group saw opportunities for early action to raise awareness of and momentum for the SSPAP. It was acknowledged that this should be possible within the requirement for an evidence-based approach
  • communication channels at all levels – it was agreed that a Communication and Engagement Strategy aligned to the SSPAP Delivery Plan will be central to the successful achievement of the SSPAP vision and target. It was also agreed that a central resource for members to access internal and reference documents was required (Meeting Minutes Action 5)
  • sharing contacts and networks – it was agreed that members’ own networks and resources were an important resource for the Group as a whole
  • co-ordination and sequencing of activity on individual SSPAP Actions – the Group discussed the need for coherent sequencing of activity between the delivery of each individual SSPAP Action, and for close co-ordination between Sponsors where SSPAP Actions overlapped or were co-dependent
  • it was agreed that all Actions should take account of the requirements set out in SSPAP Action 8 (all Actions to consider the needs to children and young people) and SSPAP Action 9 (ensuring data, evidence, and guidance is used to maximise impact)
  • shared understanding – the Group identified the importance of having a clear and collectively agreed understanding in taking this work forward. It was agreed that members would raise any points of ambiguity so as to facilitate clarity, delivery and accountability
  • reviewing paradigms – the Group recognised that the ambition of the Scotland Suicide Prevention Action Plan required a bold and questioning approach to existing paradigms and approaches. An example of this would be changing the way in which at-risk groups can be viewed, recognising that they should be key partners in gathering knowledge and evidence towards suicide prevention
  • levers available to enact change – the Group acknowledged that the lead for many of the SSPAP Actions was with Scottish Government, and that the NSPLG was in partnership with Scottish Government for the delivery of the SSPAP. Identifying what levers of change each of these partners had at their disposal and ensuring that each was used effectively would be part of the NSPLG advisory function and its responsibility to make recommendations to Ministers and COSLA
  • measuring progress – the Group discussed how progress on implementation of the SSPAP Delivery Plan would be reported. It was agreed that the Secretariat would circulate a draft reporting template to the Group to further this discussion. (Meeting Minutes Action 4)

It was agreed that the Secretariat and Group would work closely together over the coming days to further develop the Delivery Plan with input from people with lived experience, taking into account the above discussions and so as to meet the tight timescales set out in the SSPAP itself. (Meeting Minutes Action 6 and Action 7).

5. Meeting Close

The Chair closed the meeting by thanking members for their clear commitment to the work of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group and their passion for delivering the commitments set out in the National Suicide Prevention Action Plan, which was evident in the volume and quality of the work being done between NSPLG meetings.

On behalf of the Group, the Chair again thanked Ms Moss for sharing her personal story, which was a powerful reminder of the importance of this work.

Actions from the NSPLG Meeting held on 14 November 2018:
(As circulated previously on 15th November)

  1. The Academic Advisory Group (AAG) and Michael Smith to draw up Terms of Reference for the AAG. These will be tabled at the January 2019 meeting.
  2. NSPLG (The Group) to feed back to the Secretariat any comments on the draft sponsor specification document by Friday 23 November 2018.
  3. NSPLG (The Group) to feed back to the Secretariat any comments on the draft Innovation Fund document by Friday 23 November 2018.
  4. The Secretariat to circulate a draft reporting template that by Friday 15 November 2018.
  5. The Secretariat to set up a Knowledge Hub for the Group to share and access reference material and documents by Friday 16 November 2018.
  6. NSPLG (The Group) members to revisit their own SSPAP Action on the basis of Group feedback and discussion, with particular emphasis on highlighting specific deliverables throughout the life of the SSPAP Delivery Plan.
  7. The Secretariat to set up a conference call with Sponsors to confirm their deliverables to feed into the SSPAP Delivery Plan. These conference calls will need to be completed by Wednesday 28 November 2018.
  8. The Secretariat to circulate If Asked lines for the Group in relation to recent suicides in the prison estate and add to the webpage in due course.
  9. The Secretariat to provide prompt updates, including If Asked NSPLG lines, to all members in the event of specific incidents/media interest.
  10. The Secretariat to propose options to secure (in collaboration with members) appropriate capability to draw up a Communications and Engagement Plan.
  11. The Secretariat to propose options to secure (in collaboration with members) appropriate capability to undertake a mapping exercise of the relevant sector landscape.
  12. The Secretariat and a NSPLG sub-group will draw up a draft approach for ongoing Lived Experience engagement through the duration of the SSPAP. Ms Lara McDonald, Ms Ruth Moss, Mr James Jopling, Mr Billy Watson and Mr Nigel Henderson indicated interest in being part of this process which would be presented to the NSPLG for approval.

Meeting Notes:

  • the NSPLG will revisit the question of how regularly it wants to meet during the January NSPLG meeting
  • Ms Lara McDonald, Mr James Jopling and Mr George Dodds offered to attend the ALLIANCE Lived Experience meeting in company with the Chair on Monday 3 December 2018 at 11.30am in Edinburgh. The purpose of the meeting would be to discuss and receive feedback on the draft Delivery Plan
  • Future NSPLG meeting dates:
  • 10 December 2018 - Police Scotland, Fettes, Edinburgh
  • 23 January 2019 - Commonwealth House, Glasgow
  • 20 February 2019
  • 20 March 2019




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